Today’s the day! The NSW and Victoria snow season has officially opened! But with plenty of social distancing restrictions in place, this ain’t no ordinary snow season.
This year’s snow season is running a few weeks behind its regular schedule due to COVID-19. But with a few adaptations, NSW and VIC ski resorts are set to open this week, with plenty of ski bums ready to shred the gnar.
As the COVID-19 situation develops across the two states, more information will be available about what the second half of the snow season will look like. For now, here’s the lowdown on the beginning of the 2020 NSW and VIC snow season.
When do the ski resorts open?
- Thredbo in NSW, Mt Buller, Mt Baw Baw and Lake Mountain in VIC all open their lifts today, June 22nd
- Perisher opens on Wednesday June 24th
- Charlotte’s Pass opens on Friday June 26th
- In Victoria, Mt Hotham and Falls Creek have delayed their opening until June 29th
- Selwyn will remain closed for the season due to fire damage
Do I have to book ski passes ahead of time?
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all ski passes must be pre-purchased online or over the phone before you arrive at the ski resort. Ski passes are not available for purchase at resorts. If you arrive at the resort without a ski pass, you’ll be turned around. This applies to all of the ski resorts.
What social distancing restrictions are in place at the ski resorts?
For the first four weeks of the season, most ski resorts are operating at 50% capacity. Resorts are waiting to hear updates on the ever-changing legal restrictions before announcing their plans, or releasing tickets for the second half of the season.
Across the ski resorts, the social distancing restrictions are pretty similar;
- One person per T-bar
- One person per triple and double chair
- Two people per quad chair
- Three people per eight seat chair
- Two people per cabin
- If you live together you can load together
- Queue tip to tail
- Keep a 1.5 metre distance from others
- If you’re sick, stay home
Can I go backcountry skiing this season?
Backcountry skiing is a go! In fact, due to limited capacity within the resorts, it’s expected that there’ll be heaps of frothers heading to the backcountry. To manage this increase, Cascades trail head and Dead Horse Gap car parks in Kosciuszko National Park will be open for day parking only.
Explorers looking to hit the slopes in the backcountry will need to fill out a Trip Intention Form before heading out. You can do this online or in person at one of these visitor centres. Why not hire out a PLB while you’re at it?
Backcountry snow activities that are permitted include skiing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and snowboarding.
Some backcountry areas are still recovering from fire damage, so check this map for the safest areas before heading out.
There’s encouragement from Tourism NSW for frothers heading to the backcountry to book in with a tour operator.
Can I go tobogganing?
Unfortunately in order to limit gatherings within the Kosciuszko National Park, there’s a ban on a few snow activities, including tobogganing, sledding and snow tubing.
Even within the ski resorts, there are no areas safely set up to allow for these activities, so it looks like it’s skiing and snowboarding only.
According to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, the only snow play activities that are permitted in the park include ‘sightseeing, building a snowman, throwing snowballs, going for a short walk or other similar activities’, and can only be undertaken in a safe and suitable location.
Snow day plan B: Build a whole family of Frosties.
In Victoria snow play is still permitted, however there’ll be regulated limits on visitor numbers to specific areas, including Mount Buffalo National Park, Mount St Gwinear (Baw Baw National Park) and Mount Donna Buang (Yarra Ranges National Park). Parks Victoria hasn’t specified exactly which activities are permitted as ‘snow play’.
Visitors are asked not to gather in groups of more than 20 people, not to queue to park or park illegally. Once a car park’s full, that area’s at capacity.
Can I go camping during the snow season?
Camping is still on the cards! Unfortunately some campgrounds throughout Kosciuszko National Park are closed due to fire damage, but there are plenty still taking bookings.
Don’t forget that to stay at any campground in NSW, you need to prebook your site, even for campgrounds that are free or have never needed a booking before.
Can’t get into your favourite campground? Check out these lesser known campgrounds instead.
As is standard across the national park, huts are not available for accommodation but are intended for emergency use only.
Feature photo by Matt Wiseman